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ILYA MASHKOV (1881-1944) Still life with watermelons, melon, grapes, apples and pears
oil on canvas 120 x 80 cm Provenance: Collection of Yann Le Masson, French filmmaker (1930-2012); Then in the family of his wife, Olga Poliakoff (Venga), actress and filmmaker, sister of Marina Vlady. Ilya Mashkov was born in 1881 in the village of Mikhailovskaya-on-Don in a peasant family. Since childhood, Ilya Mashkov liked to draw. He copied cheap popular prints and icons, and once even tried to repeat the portrait of General Mikhail Skobelev from a reproduction. Once Mashkov’s paintings were seen by painter Nikolai Evseev, who began to work with him. Evseev advised him to enter in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where Mashkov was admitted in the summer of 1900. There taught Leonid Pasternak, Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin, Apollinariy Vasnetsov. In 1908, Ilya Mashkov went abroad for the first time. For several years, he was saving up money to travel to European countries - France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Great Britain. In France, Mashkov became fascinated by Fauvism, the work of Henri Matisse, abandoning the complex forms, using bright colors, sharp contours, often distorting perspective. This «innovation in painting» caused him to quarrel with his teacher Valentin Serov. In the 1910s, Ilya Mashkov imitated Paul Cézanne, emphasizing the color of an object, sometimes deliberately depicting it too bright and saturated. In December 1910, together with Pyotr Konchalovsky, Aristarkh Lentulov and Mikhail Larionov, Mashkov organized the exhibition “The Knave of Diamonds” in Moscow. The name for the exhibition was chosen by the participants not by chance, it was a challenge to Moscow rich bourgeoisie, merchants and the nobility: knaves then called crooks, and aces of diamonds - convicts. In 1911, the members of the “The Knave of Diamonds” organized an association of the same name, whose members included Natalia Goncharova, Alexandra Exter, Alexander Kuprin, and the brothers Vladimir and David Burlyuk. By 1912, Mashkov had already presented his canvases at major Russian and foreign exhibitions. On the recommendation of Henri Matisse, Ivan Morozov bought the painting “Blue Plums” for his collection and the Tretyakov gallery bought «Still Life. Camellia» and «Still Life. Pumpkin». In the 1920s-40s, after the First World War and the October Revolution, there was a «turn to juicy reality» in Mashkov’s work. In the 1920s, the painter almost stopped experimenting with colors. Instead of bright colors and bold outlines he began to use muted tones. In 1923, Ilya Mashkov showed his new works in the «Exhibition of paintings» - realistic landscapes and still lifes. A revolutionary and art historian Anatoly Lunacharsky wrote that these paintings show “a turn toward juicy reality, toward pictorial realism”. In the 30s, Ilya Mashkov returned to the traditions of the tonal system of painting.